Rs 365 Cr For Southern Rlys

Chennai, February 26: | Updated: Feb 27 2003, 05:30am hrs
The Railway budget for 2003-04 has allocated Rs 365 crore for the Southern Railways. Of this, Rs 30.69 crore is for new line works, Rs 90.21 crore for gauge conversion, Rs 152.46 crore for doubling works, Rs 24.11 crore for traffic facilities and Rs 67.63 crore for rail over bridges and rail under bridges.

Last year there had been a combined allocation of Rs 447 crore for the southern and south-western railways.

For Tamil Nadu there are proposals for the continuation of some of the on-going projects and introduction of a few new trains.

Though no mention is made about the long-awaited Madurai-Ramanathapuram and Nagapattinam-Velankanni rail links, the railway minister Mr Nitish Kumar has announced a direct link between Chennai Central and Egmore stations.

``This link would benefit commuters as well as long distance passengers. It would relieve them of the irksome transhipment between the two stations'', he said in his budget speech on Wednesday.

He said the work of the Tirumailai-Velacherry line, part of the Rs 698-crore MRTS-II, would be competed in June 2003.

The new trains announced are Chennai-Bangalore, (weekly), Vasco-Chennai via Hubli (weekly), Chennai-Deradun, Chandiarh via New Delhi and Egmore-Erode via Tiruchirapally (daily).

The only extension announced to this region is that of the Egmore-Vilupuram train to Pondicherry.

Under gauge conversion, the minister said work on Tamabram-Chengalpattu section was likely to be completed by March 2004.

The new projects announced for 2003-04 are conversion of Villupuram- Pondicherry line, Rajapalayam-Thenkasi line of Quilon-Tiruchendur and Virudhunagar-Tenkasi, Vadalur-Cuddalore of Salem-Cuddalore, and Thanjavur-Kumbakonam of Thanjavur-Villupuram.

The projects under line-doubling are Amabdurai-Kodaikanal and Chennai Beach-Korukupet.

Meanwhile the president of the Tamil Chamber of Commerce Mr S Santhanam in a release said the railway minister has produced ``a passenger-friendly and freight-friendly budget as a pleasant surprise, with emphasis on safety, security, punctuality and cleanliness''.